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Internet research boosting sales but driving discounts, online specialist claims

Customers' research on automotive web sites is driving record sales but saving customers an up to £625 per car purchase, according to online specialist.

Figures revealed in a study from Insurance.com found that customers save approximately £0.77 for every minute spent using comparison sites, with many spending an average of 13.6 hours carrying out online research.

But following the release of the SMMT’s record-breaking sales figures for 2015 Chris Smith, head of CarKeys.co.uk, believes that changing consumer paths are partly responsible for the rise in new car registrations.

He said: “If you’re getting a significant discount on a new model and, if the finance rates are more attractive or if you have a more flexible PCP or leasing plan, then a brand new model is often much cheaper.”

“The impact that the internet has had on new car sales is phenomenal, but the increase in PCP and leasing contracts is also indicative of a shift in buying and ownership habits.

“Customers can now afford to buy more new cars more often, say one every couple of years rather than the longer terms people used to keep their motors. It also gives people access to more expensive models, while the rise in leasing can also account for growth in fleet markets as well.”

The team at CarKeys.co.uk believe that the car buying process has made a “seamless” transition from the forecourt to online.

A spokesman said: “The collaboration between a dealer and online portals has helped ensure a car has never been easier to buy, with a range of sites that combine the ability to research prices with high-quality content and reviews to ensure customers make informed choices.

“This has encouraged customers to realise that a car can be economically replaced every two or three years, helping spur record sales.”

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